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Leaders of the TV pack

NBC, CBS jump out ahead in November sweeps

Strong performances by its 10 o’clock dramas, including “Third Watch” on its new night, have gotten NBC off and running for the November sweep.

The Peacock net, favored to win the month in adults 18-49, swept the first three nights in the key demo to assume an early lead, according to Nielsen. CBS holds the advantage among total viewers and is expected to capture November easily by this measure.

It’s been a slow start, meanwhile, for ABC and Fox, whose biggest nights of the week lie ahead.

NBC captured Thursday in adults 18-49 (8.4/22), with “ER” (9.7/25 in 18-49, 19.91 million viewers overall) clinching the victory by dominating the night’s final hour. Despite super-sized episodes of its comedies, though — led by “Friends” (9.0/24 in 18-49, 19.37m) — the Peacock was off 18% year-to-year.

CBS was a strong second in 18-49 (7.3/19, off 9% vs. last year) and pulled ahead in both adults 25-54 (9.1/21) and total viewers (21.3 million), with “CSI” (9.5/23 in 18-49, 27.35m) dominating the 9 o’clock hour and “Survivor: Pearl Islands” (7.8/21 in 18-49, 20.81m) putting up its best hourlong numbers this season.

UPN’s “WWE Smackdown” (2.5/6 in 18-49, 5.95m) stepped up with its best overall numbers in a year and some of its best male demos (3.7/10 in men 18-49) in 19 months.

Premiere of Fox’s supernatural drama “Tru Calling” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 4.89m) did OK given its tough timeslot, topping ABC’s competing drama “Threat Matrix” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 6.90m) in demos and delivering 7 shares in the 12-34 breakouts.

ABC’s improvement from 9 to 11 with “Extreme Makeover” (2.9/7 in 18-49) and “Primetime” (3.2/8) helped the net join UPN as the only webs to start the sweep with year-to-year gains on opening night.

On Friday, the Alphabet’s “TGIF” comedy block appeared to be affected by Halloween festivities, although both “George Lopez” (prelim 2.5/10) and “Hope & Faith” (prelim 2.9/10) eked out 18-49 victories.

NBC was solid from 8 to 10 with a two-hour murder mystery on “Dateline” (prelim 2.7/10 in 18-49, 11.2 million), and “Third Watch” (prelim 3.2/11 in 18-49, 10.5 million) closed out the night with the net’s best firstrun score in the hour this season.

“Third Watch” topped ABC’s “20/20” (prelim 2.5/9 in 18-49, 8.2 million) and easily disposed of drama competish “The Handler” on CBS (prelim 1.8/6 in 18-49, 8.1 million). The Eye fared better at 8 with “Joan of Arcadia” (prelim 2.3/9 in 18-49, 10.6 million), which led its hour in 25-54 and total viewers.

Fox still couldn’t get much going on the night, as “Boston Public” and two segs of “Wanda at Large” left it fourth in 18-49.

As usual, there wasn’t too much happening on Saturday, although NBC scored an 18-49 victory on the strength of a 10 o’clock repeat of “Law & Order: SVU” (prelim 2.9/10 in 18-49, 8.2 million), which topped CBS’ “The District” (prelim 1.9/5 in 18-49, 9.4 million) and ABC’s struggling “L.A. Dragnet” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 4.6 million). “The District” did win its hour in total viewers, and CBS was the night’s most-watched net overall.

ABC didn’t do much with original movie “Phenomenon II” (prelim 2.1/7 in 18-49, 6.6 million), a sequel/remake of sorts of the John Travolta theatrical.

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